Sandra Day O'Connor Still on Supreme Court? Many Americans Think So, Survey Claims

Categories: News

Sandra Day O'Connor.jpg
Sandra Day O'Connor: No longer a Supreme Court justice (write that down, America).

If you think former Supreme Court Justice -- and Arizona native -- Sandra Day O'Connor is still a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, you're wrong but not alone

O'Connor retired from the bench in 2006. But even if you don't know tht but still know who she was, you know more about the Supremes than roughly two-thirds of all Americans.

A new survey by Findlaw.com finds that 65 percent of Americans can't name a single member of the Supreme Court and, of the roughly 35-percent who can, many seem to think O'Connor is still a justice.

Not being able to name all the justices is understandable -- Justice Stephen Breyer isn't exactly a household name -- but not being able to name a single current member of the country's highest court? Come on, America.  

According to the survey, Justice Clarence Thomas is the most well-known justice (he can probably thank Anita Hill for that), with 19 percent of those surveyed able to identify him as a member of the court.

As for the rest of the bench, other members, namely those not accused of sexual harassment during their confirmation hearings, aren't as famous as their titles might suggest.

Check out what percentage of Americans can identify each justice below.

  • Clarence Thomas - 19%
  • John Roberts - 16%
  • Sonia Sotomayor - 15%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 13%
  • Antonin Scalia - 10%
  • Samuel Alito - 8%
  • John Paul Stevens - 8%
  • Anthony Kennedy - 6%
  • Stephen Breyer - 3%

Along with O'Connor, the survey also found that many Americans, who can actually identify a single member of the Supreme Court, think David Souter is still a member of the court, even though his very-public retirement last year led to the appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The author of the survey, Michael C. Dorf, a former Supreme Court clerk who currently teaches constitutional law at Cornell University Law School and authors a legal column for FindLaw, isn't alarmed by the survey's findings.

"Even though Supreme Court rulings can have a major impact on contentious issues such as the death penalty, abortion rights, discrimination, and environmental protection, the Court issues its rulings as a collective body," Dorf says. "After their 15 minutes before the Senate Judiciary Committee are up, Supreme Court justices rarely appear on television. What is a source for concern are polls consistently showing that many Americans are unfamiliar with basic features of our constitutional system."

Check out the whole survey here.

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